Monday, July 09, 2007

Credibility Chasm

Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any bigger, Dr. Strangelove meets Weekend at Bernie's:
The U.S. command in Baghdad this week ballyhooed the killing of a key al Qaeda leader but later admitted that the military had declared him dead a year ago.

The incident shows the eagerness of the command to show progress in dismantling al Qaeda at a time when Democrats and some Republicans are pressing President Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, has declared al Qaeda enemy No. 1 in Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner began his Monday news conference with a list of top insurgents either killed or captured in recent operations. He said they had been eliminated "in the past few weeks" and were "recent results."

"In the north, Iraqi army and coalition forces continue successful operations in Mosul," he told reporters. "Kamal Jalil Uthman, also known as Said Hamza, was the al Qaeda in Iraq military emir of Mosul. He planned, coordinated and facilitated suicide bombings, and he facilitated the movement of more than a hundred foreign fighters through safe houses in the area." All told, Bergner devoted 68 words to Uthman's demise.

Uthman was indeed a big kill, and the military featured his death last year in a report titled "Tearing Down al Qaeda."

When The Examiner pointed out that Uthman's death had been announced twice, a command spokesman said in an e-mail, "You are correct that we did previously announce that we killed him. This was a roll up to show an overall effort against [al Qaeda in Iraq]. We can probably do a better job on saying 'previously announced' when we do long-term roll ups to show an overall effort."
An honest mistake? That media "roll up" was last week. Here's Brig. Gen. Bergner trumpeting some breaking news to CNN viewers on June 13, 2007:

From the transcript:
BLITZER: Finally, general, I understand there was a major hit against an Al Qaeda figure up in the north, in Mosul, earlier today.

I wonder if you could share some of the specific details with us.

BERGNER: Wolf, the coalition forces learned of a Kamal Jalil Bakr 'Uthman, who was referred to in some circles as the military emir of Mosul. He's the man who had -- who was involved in bringing some 100 foreign fighters in Iraq and involved in facilitating and conducting suicide attacks, both against the Iraqi people and the coalition.

Our forces went to detain him in Mosul. And as he resisted -- in fact, was going for a suicide vest, as our forces tried to capture him. And in the process they engaged him. And so an important action in Mosul, specifically, to reduce the Al Qaeda threat there, keep the pressure on these cells that are terrorizing the Iraqi people and conducting operations against the coalition.

So the picture I'm painting for you is there's a great deal of pressure on these extremist cells around -- all across Iraq.

BLITZER: And when you say they engaged him, you mean they killed him?

BERGNER: They did kill him in the attempt to capture him when he went for his suicide vest.
Short background on Bergner: He became head spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq in early June. His official title? Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Effects. He was Michael Gordon's only source for this New York Times piece on alleged Iranian ties to the Karbala raid in which five American troops were killed. His previous position: Special Assistant to President Bush.


Anonymous Dave L said...

Good post. The damage being done to our military by this sad Iraq adventure goes well beyond troops lost and equipment destroyed.

7/09/2007 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, what a surprise that the military has become another political football.
When even the justice department is not save from that why should the hacks that wear our military uniform not also be true blue bushies.

And the downhill slope gets slicker and slicker.

7/09/2007 12:57 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation
Words and Music by Tom Paxton

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It said this is your lucky day.
It's time to put your khaki trousers on.
Though it may seem very queer
We've got no jobs to give you here
So we are sending you to Viet Nam

Lyndon Johnson told the nation,
"Have no fear of escalation.
I am trying everyone to please.
Though it isn't really war,
We're sending fifty thousand more,
To help save Viet nam from Viet Namese."

I jumped off the old troop ship,
And sank in mud up to my hips.
I cussed until the captain called me down.
Never mind how hard it's raining,
Think of all the ground we're gaining,
Just don't take one step outside of town.


Every night the local gentry,
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They go to join the old VC.
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They put on their black pajamas,
And come lobbing mortar shells at me.


We go round in helicopters,
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Searching for the Viet Cong in vain.
They left a note that they had gone.
They had to get down to Saigon,
Their government positions to maintain.


Well here I sit in this rice paddy,
Wondering about Big Daddy,
And I know that Lyndon loves me so.
Yet how sadly I remember,
Way back yonder in November,
When he said I'd never have to go.


7/09/2007 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Kevin Wohlmut said...

TCR forgets to mention that he basically more or less predicted this scenario about two or three years ago when he started this feature "Trusted Lieutennant Watch". I'm too lazy to look up the actual post, but it's there. Nice call and way to back it up with supplemental evidence... !

7/09/2007 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy christ! The evil doers have greated Zombie terrorists.

7/09/2007 4:59 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

to Anon 4:59 --

Yes, I'm afraid that's old news.

7/09/2007 5:08 PM  
Blogger chris bray said...

Bergner will no doubt be held accountable for lying to the American public.

Cough, cough.

7/09/2007 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Hedley Bowes said...

This must be part of the mil's sustainability program: reduce, reuse, recycle. [/snark]

7/09/2007 7:26 PM  
Anonymous semper fubar said...

Nice mention and link from Scott Horton at Harper's. Well done, TCR.

7/10/2007 8:11 AM  
Blogger Xanthippas said...

Very well done.

7/10/2007 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Neal Deesit said...

"Strategic Effects" must be the military version of Hollywood's special effects, with which one can, for dramatic purposes, kill the same character over again.

I imagine Brig. Gen. Bergner awakes every morning at 6 a.m. to Sonny and Cher singing "I Got You Babe" on his clock radio.

7/12/2007 4:42 AM  
Anonymous shelly said...

This is really good digging into Bergner. I hope you don't mind if I use some of your investigation into this guy for my own research and report on him. Did you hear today that he is the main source for declaring al-Baghdadi, the supposed head of al Qaeda in Iraq, a fake, an actor? The "real" head of al Qaeda in Iraq was also supposedly killed but the main difference between the two are that the "real" head of AQ in Iraq has ties to bin Laden. Baghdadi didn't. Because he was fake, of course.

7/19/2007 1:11 AM  
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